And why he'll be making sure his British America's Cup campaign is hard-wired to success
Sir Keith Mills, the man who has been masterminding the British America’s Cup campaign is not familiar with failure. The announcement today is confirmation of a project he is widely known to have been furthering since at least 2005. Following his success in winning London’s 2012 Olympic bid he will be making damn sure he isn’t associated with a lame challenge in his favourite sport.
But just who is Sir Keith Mills?
His background is in marketing. In the late Eighties he dreamed up the idea of Air Miles, took the idea to British Airways and eventually sold them a 49 per cent share. He took a break in 1999 to do the Clipper Round the World Race, sailing under the young and then quite inexperienced skipper Alex Thomson, who had never even crossed the Atlantic. Yet Thomson and his crew dominated the race, and these two forged a lasting friendship. Mills has very much been a mentor to Thomson and he bought the (late) Open 60 Hugo Boss and put Thomson on the road to major sponsorship.
In 2001, Mills founded Loyalty Management UK and launched the Nectar loyalty programme. The company is 51 per cent owned by him and been valued at over £200 million. He was knighted in the New Year’s Honours last year.
Sir Keith is a keen sailor. He skippered his Oyster 485, appropriately named Frequent Flyer, across the Atlantic in the ARC in 2002, and is a member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club.